NBC’s Engel freed from Syrian captors; Update: Video added

posted at 8:01 am on December 18, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Call this the end of the worst-kept secret in the commentariat.  NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel had been abducted last week, which got out into Twitter after a few days, prompting the network to attempt to squelch any mention of the disappearance of Engel and his crew while they attempted to find out who had Engel.  Fortunately, his captors lost a firefight with Syrian rebels, who freed the news crew and sent them back to Turkey:

NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and members of his network production team were freed from captors in Syria after a firefight at a checkpoint on Monday, five days after they were taken prisoner, NBC News said early Tuesday.

“After being kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria by an unknown group, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his production crew members have been freed unharmed. We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country,” the network said in a statement. The captors were unidentified.

Engel, 39, along with other employees the network did not identify, disappeared shortly after crossing into northwest Syria from Turkey on Thursday. The network had not been able to contact them until learning that they had been freed on Monday.

It’s unclear whether their captors ever knew or cared who their hostages were.  No claims of responsibility or demands of ransom ever reached the US, according the NBC News.  Neither were the crew physically harmed, other than being bound and blindfolded.  At least according to the published reports, the reason for their captivity remains a mystery.

Their escape was a close-run event nonetheless:

Early Monday evening local time, the prisoners were being moved to a new location in a vehicle when their captors ran into a checkpoint manned by members of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, a Syrian rebel group. There was a confrontation and a firefight ensued.  Two of the captors were killed, while an unknown number of others escaped, the network said.

The NBC News crew was unharmed in the incident. They remained in Syria until Tuesday morning when they made their way to the border and re-entered Turkey, the network said. They were to be evaluated and debriefed, but had communicated that everyone was in good health.

That’s good to hear, especially with so much bad news this Christmas already.  It reminds us how dangerous and difficult the job of foreign correspondent can get, which we have unfortunately learned more tragically from abductions that ended in death or combat attacks in war zones for people like Stephen Vincent, Michael Kelly, and more.

Update: NBC’s Today interviewed Engel this morning, and Engel says the captors were “Shabiha,” a militia loyal to Bashar al-Assad (via Jeff Dunetz):

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This could have ended much more tragically. It’s good to see these men alive and well. But as Engel explains, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a terrifying few days.


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Good news

cmsinaz on December 18, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Great place to report from on the Caliphate.

Next stop…….Jordan.

PappyD61 on December 18, 2012 at 8:07 AM

why didn’t they take Chris Matthews

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Lara Logan thinks he got off too easy.

wolly4321 on December 18, 2012 at 8:13 AM

reports are they passed on Rachel Maddow because they thought she was Fred Savage and The Wonder Years is their favorite show

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:15 AM

why didn’t they take Chris Matthews

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:10 AM

“Who pays your salary!?
Who pays your salary!?
Who pays your salary!?”

forest on December 18, 2012 at 8:15 AM

Very good news.

AZCoyote on December 18, 2012 at 8:18 AM

Forest… heh :)

Soledad a close second

cmsinaz on December 18, 2012 at 8:20 AM

Im surprised msdnc didnt report this

Oh yeah….let’s focus on gun control instead

cmsinaz on December 18, 2012 at 8:22 AM

Who pays your salary!?”

forest on December 18, 2012 at 8:15 AM

AFP, AFP, AFP

fine! It’s the Kochs! and everyone knows it’s about the video

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:26 AM

That’s good to hear, especially with so much bad news this Christmas already. It reminds us how dangerous and difficult the job of foreign correspondent can get, which we have unfortunately learned more tragically from abductions that ended in death for people like Stephen Vincent, Michael Kelly, and more.

Don’t forget Daniel Pearl.

Bitter Clinger on December 18, 2012 at 8:35 AM

They would have taken Chris Matthews, but they know the media is already too biased in favor of the right wing.

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:35 AM

see, more guns=more safety.

we need to be more like syria.

sesquipedalian on December 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM

sesquipedalian on December 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM

talk to your main Kenyan Obama. All those weapons he gave to the Libyans went straight to Syrian rebels, and his flexibility pal Putin is Assad’s besty.

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:39 AM

All those weapons he gave to the Libyans went straight to Syrian rebels, and his flexibility pal Putin is Assad’s besty.

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:39 AM

yes and not really.

sesquipedalian on December 18, 2012 at 8:41 AM

see, more guns=more safety.

we need to be more like syria.

sesquipedalian on December 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Bless your heart

Rio Linda Refugee on December 18, 2012 at 8:41 AM

huh?

speak ‘Merican!

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:42 AM

see, more guns=more safety.
 
we need to be more like syria.
 
sesquipedalian on December 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM

 
Because:
 

There was a confrontation and a firefight ensued. Two of the captors were killed, while an unknown number of others escaped, the network said.

 
I bet they waited to tackle them while they reloaded, don’t you?
 
It’s like you haven’t thought this out at all. It really is just a semi-religious position, isn’t it?

rogerb on December 18, 2012 at 8:45 AM

I hope he gets back to making propaganda for the state post haste.

tom daschle concerned on December 18, 2012 at 8:46 AM

rogerb on December 18, 2012 at 8:45 AM

semi?

it’s straight up lib theology. It’s like Science. They don’t know what it is but they “believe” in it

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:46 AM

How the members of the the Panties-in-a-Wad Media get sainthood?

1. Killed while on duty.

2. Lambasted by Rush Limbaugh.

3. Get to do a one-on-one with the Messiah.

Engel missed his chance.

PappyD61 on December 18, 2012 at 8:49 AM

see, more guns=more safety.

we need to be more like syria.

sesquipedalian on December 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM

How did Libyans bring down Qaddafi?

How did he keep his people down?

the_nile on December 18, 2012 at 8:51 AM

why didn’t they take Chris Matthews

Slade73 on December 18, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Simple…who would want him back?

It’s unclear whether their captors ever knew or cared who their hostages were. No claims of responsibility or demands of ransom ever reached the US, according the NBC News. Neither were the crew physically harmed, other than being bound and blindfolded. At least according to the published reports, the reason for their captivity remains a mystery.

I dunno…members of the press corp are pretty easy to spot. Reminds me of Steve Centanni and his cameraman taken hostage a few years back from Gaza. I’m no expert of course, but when hostages are taken, even if responsibility/demands aren’t made public the first couple of days, they’re taken for a reason…and chosen for a reason.

I couldn’t imagine being in that situation. Glad he’s free.

JetBoy on December 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Must have been staged for ratings. Just watch, he will get anchors job soon.

Sticky Wicket on December 18, 2012 at 9:38 AM

I bet they waited to tackle them while they reloaded, don’t you?

rogerb on December 18, 2012 at 8:45 AM

as i said, we need to be more like syria. kalashnikovs in every household! make this christmas special – buy an rpg to your child!

sesquipedalian on December 18, 2012 at 9:46 AM

I’m glad he’s safe.

Cindy Munford on December 18, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Why would they take Crissy Matthews? He’s on their side. Why would you kidnap an ally.

Minnfidel on December 18, 2012 at 10:56 AM

I bet they waited to tackle them while they reloaded, don’t you?
 
rogerb on December 18, 2012 at 8:45 AM

 
as i said, we need to be more like syria. kalashnikovs in every household! make this christmas special – buy an rpg to your child!
 
sesquipedalian on December 18, 2012 at 9:46 AM

 
How did you put it? Oh yeah:
 

more nonsense
 
sesquipedalian on December 17, 2012 at 1:33 PM

 
Answer the question. Were they freed because their captors were tackled?

rogerb on December 18, 2012 at 11:05 AM

NBC’s Engel freed from Syrian captors;

Who cares?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 18, 2012 at 12:38 PM

glad they are alive..that’s good news..but was it really government forces or jihadists amongst the rebels? i think it’s the latter and that they are making up that government forces part..the jihadists part doesn’t fit their narrative that the rebels are good people and really fighting for freedom instead of shariah law

sadsushi on December 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM

How much of this story is true and how much is made up?

VorDaj on December 18, 2012 at 3:16 PM

This all reads too much like a movie for me to accept it as gospel.

VorDaj on December 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM

When they realized he worked for NBC….one of their main propagandist news outlets they freed him pretty fast.

The Notorious G.O.P on December 18, 2012 at 3:34 PM

…I want the media in prison!

KOOLAID2 on December 18, 2012 at 11:51 PM